IMPOSTERS is on a learning curve it seems. This week’s episode is even better than the last’s, diving deeper into our characters and introducing Uma Thurman’s malevolent hit man Lenny Cohen (Uma Thurman) in an episode titled, what else, “Cohen, Lenny Cohen.” While it’s been mostly fun and games until now, the characters are faced with their first fatal mistake.
Following up on their revelation about Maddie’s hometown, the terrific trio are snooping at her old school St. Agnes — Richard (Parker Young) regaling the nun with stories of basketball glory days while Jules (Marianne Rendón) and Ezra (Rob Heaps) dig through old yearbooks in the library. The two of them find a picture of high school Maddie Johnson and clumsily stumble out the window as Richard’s distractions grow more bombastic.
Using the yearbook address list, they find the Johnson house to be rundown and poor. Upon seeing a woman drive away, they decide to approach who they presume to be Maddie’s mom under a guise. Jules impersonates one of Maddie’s old classmates and follows her to the salon, where the woman, Meg, is having her hair done and chatting with the hairdresser about her empty nest syndrome. Jules’ attempt to introduce herself as Jenny Sherman almost fails when Patrick interrupts to save her — they make up a story that they’re stuck in town and the salon hairdresser proposes that they have lunch together. Meg gruffly agrees, and they have an in.
At lunch at the Johnson house, Jules and Richard find Meg to be a lonely woman living with a husband with dementia. Richard immediately sympathizes, but Jules has Maddie in her sights, letting Ezra in the back to investigate the house and find Meg’s phone. Ezra briefly explores Maddie’s old room, still the way she left it, before running into Arlen, her dementia-ridden dad. Ezra easily gets away from him with Meg’s phone in hand. Excited, he shows Jules and Richard the phone after lunch, but Richard is upset that he stole it, saying they broke their code and delivering the laugh-out-loud line of the week: “Mrs. J was really sweet and she taught me about feta cheese.” Ezra and Jules promise to return the phone after they use it to trace Maddie’s IP address.
At a restaurant, Richard flirts with the hostess while Jules glowers at him, continuing her role as the ill-tempered stoic of the group. After Richard returns to the table after a quickie with the hostess — it’s a 10PM show, we have to have a sex scene! — Jules disgustedly calls him “a boner with a body” before they suddenly get a ping about Maddie’s phone, placing her in Seattle.
Meanwhile, Maddie (Inbar Lavi) is not heeding the warnings from Max (Brian Benben), joining Patrick (Stephen Bishop) on a lunch date, where the two of them smile and flirt prettily at each other (essentially, the extent of their interactions).
Patrick drops Maddie off from her date, and the two are about the share a kiss in front of her apartment when Gary sees them from a distance. Enraged, he drives up and interrupts them, parading his dart skills in front of Patrick and annoying Maddie. Uncomfortable, Patrick leaves, and Maddie explodes at Gary, briefly slipping out of her sweet Saffron persona to insult and yell at him. Wounded, Gary drives off before Maddie can come to her senses and take it back.
Later at the bank, Maddie is chatting and laughing with a young male coworker, when a fuming Gary storms up to scold her on a minor mess-up. “Trust is fundamental,” he intones threateningly, leaving Maddie despondent over the loss of all her progress.
At home, Maddie suddenly finds a surprise visitor. Lenny Cohen waits in her kitchen with a knife in hand, introducing herself with a cheery, “Do you know who I am? Good, let’s eat.”
Lenny delivers the kind of gleeful malevolence this show had been missing before, and it’s thanks in no small part to Thurman and her legacy. The KILL BILL actress has carved a niche for herself as a deadly waif, and in her sharp checkered suit and tie, bright red hair and blunt bangs, this time is no different.
In a scene pulled straight out of a horror-thriller, complete with jarring high-angle close-ups and fast cuts between the characters, Lenny interrogates Maddie as Maddie becomes visibly distressed in front of someone else for the first time. It’s a wonderfully tense atmosphere set to a mundane scene of the two of them eating dinner at the kitchen table. Lenny drops several f-bombs (wow, Bravo!) before exalting the Doctor at length, becoming more threatening as Maddie becomes more frightened. “You don’t want to see me do my job,” Lenny warns Maddie.
It’s not the first or even most climactic sit-down of the episode. Unaware that Lenny has come to town, Max and Sally (Katherine LaNasa) discuss Maddie’s difficulty with Gary Heller. While Sally casually hides her discovery of Gary’s stash of money, Max nervously hides from her the import of this mission to the Doctor, whose pressure on him has him visibly antsy.
Unaware of the stakes, Sally finds herself at Gary’s house again, looking through the floorboard of cash. But Gary just keeps sneaking up on people this episode, seeing her through his window. He ominously asks her to stay and talk, offering her a drink. At the dinner table, Gary gives Sally a glass of gin before he rails on to her about snooping, interrogating her and finally name-dropping The Doctor. He asks her if she works for him and Sally tries to play it off, but he yells and finally lunges at her.
In a darkened car, Lenny drives Maddie somewhere when Maddie receives an email from her “mom” on her phone — it’s the ping from the terrific trio! Unaware of this group closing in on her, Maddie is dropped off at Gary’s house with Lenny’s threat that she’ll be around until the mission is done.
Maddie gets to work, but finds Gary’s house dark and the door unlocked. She puts on her high-pitched Saffron voice, but it’s to no avail — seeing a trail of blood leading into the dining room, furniture is overturned and Gary’s body is on the floor, dead. She hears whimpering from the kitchen and finds Sally beaten and bruised, hugging the bag of money. Panicked, Maddie tells Sally to run, and she stays, collapsing against the cabinets and at a loss what to do.
It’s pretty bold and exciting for the show to kill off a character so early in the season’s run — and one that is so central to Maddie’s mission too. I’m looking forward to where this takes us, because it’s nothing if not a game changer for what I assumed until now to be a fairly by-the-numbers con show. Hopefully IMPOSTERS doesn’t squander its momentum.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Imposters airs Day at 10PM on Bravo
Hoai-Tran is a freelance pop culture journalist based in D.C., with an affinity for superheroes, TV, movies, and Jeff Goldbum memes. She currently works as a web producer for the Washington Examiner and has written for USA Today.
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Hoai-Tran Bui | Contributor